KNOWLEDGE: Blog digest February 2017

Each month, the Critical Fundraising blog presents a digest of the best fundraising-related blogs and articles that have adopted a critical fundraising mode of thought. Inclusion in this digest does not indicate that Rogare agrees with any arguments presented, only that we thought they made a good argument.

A proposed solution to allow early-stage major gifts fundraising in the UK to be Data Protection compliant


Instead of going out to find new donors, wouldn’t it be nice if you could find a way for them to come to you? Rogare Advisory Panel member, Grenzbach Glier and Associates’ Adrian Salmon, thinks he’s found the answer in the ‘Future Philanthropists Society’ (which just so happens to form an ironic acronym).

Choice quote:

“It would allow ‘new names’ major gifts work to meet the legal requirements of data protection. It would also make the major gifts process a lot more transparent to prospects – bringing it ‘out of the shadows and into the light’.”

New research on fundraiser-donor relationships: What part of ‘broken’ don’t we understand?

Rogare Advisory Panel member Paul Vanags reviews a new report from two London colleges that argue fundraising has created a ‘crisis of caring’ and looks at how his charity, Oxfam, is trying to do things differently.


Choice quote:

“There is an important nuance. The report does not say, ‘Don’t show images of suffering’. It’s not quite that simple, I’m afraid. It does say that emotions need to be ‘manageable’ for the receiver.”

Fundraising: reframing the imagery debate

Fundraising and Philanthropy Magazine Australasia

There is an increasingly heartfelt debate within fundraising about the use of so-called ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ imagery. Rogare Advisory Panel member Derek Humphries of DTV argues it is time to move beyond these simple notions to develop an approach that can unite fundraisers, programmes teams, policymakers and everyone else in the sector.

Choice quote:

“I’ve heard of images of children in extreme need described as ‘old-fashioned’, and I can’t help feeling that it would be wonderful if such images were truly old-fashioned instead of real children who we have the chance to help today.”

We are all Justgiving

Critical Fundraising

The response of fundraisers following yet another ideological attack by the UK media on the sector showed the beginnings of a unified front. But Rogare’s director Ian MacQuillin asks whether the fundraising profession is properly prepared to stand up for its values.

Choice quote:

“Rather than construct a narrative about charities that challenges doubters to think differently, we dilute our values until no-one can any longer take offence at them.”

Why we’ve got to change the conversation about the Daily Mail and JustGiving (and everything else!)

The Medium

We can’t use logic and reason to argue against an illogical attack. Instead, says James Gadsby Peet, we have to understand the emotional place where it comes from and possibly play by some rules we’re not that comfortable with.

Choice quote:

“I think the Daily Mail want to dismantle the UK’s professional charity sector. They genuinely believe that the charity sector in the UK as we know it, needs to be taken apart. Imagine if their views don’t come from a place of malice — they wholeheartedly think they are doing a good thing for society.”

Who’s to blame when bad reporting devastates a good charity?

NonProfit Pro

The Charity Defense Council’s Jason Lynch says the nonprofit sector must take its share of the blame for allowing misguided ideas such as the ‘overhead myth’ to take root with the public and media.

Choice quote:

“It’s unreasonable to expect top-notch coverage of charities when misguided attitudes are so prevalent across charity ratings, grant policies and legislation.”

Is it time for an X-prize in fundraising

UK Fundraising

Charity fundraisers continue to raise more for charities, to hit or exceed their targets. But is gradual growth enough? If the world’s charities are to have a transformational effect, should we not be considering how to transform fundraising and giving on a grand scale? If so, asks AP member Howard Lake of UK Fundraising, then it could be time for an X Prize for fundraising.

Choice quote:

“One of the exciting elements of an X Prize for fundraising winning solution is that it will almost certainly not come from within the established fundraising sector. It could come from business, a donor, a grantmaker, a group of school children, an academic, or an entrepreneur. Imagine a group of projects being developed by such people, all with an interest or experience of giving, but with such different skills, ideas and experiences.”

Make consent less boring

UK Fundraising

Gaining permission to contact a donors doesn’t just need to be an administrative task. Jonathan Cook says fundraisers should reclaim consent from the realm of compliance and make it a full part of fundraising communications.

Choice quote:

“There is nothing in the current or even forthcoming legislation that says your consent statements must be in writing. Why can’t they be videos? Why can’t they be audio files? Why can’t they come from a service user? Why can’t they be shaved into the fur of a cute puppy?”

Nonprofits, your sole goal in 2017: pick a fight with Trump!

Is the best way to gain a fundraising advantage to pick a fight with the US president? Joe Waters certainly thinks so.

Nonprofit Quarterly

Choice quote:

“Your next big fundraiser is here. You don’t need to pour ice water on yourself, do pushups, or pose like a mannequin. You just need to bait a contentious, mercurial man who likes to lash out in 140-character tweets.”

The biggest fundraising failure I’ve ever seen – and what you can learn from it

Future Fundraising Now

The lesson to take from failed fundraising campaigns is not to hire people who clearly don’t know what they’re talking about, says Jeff Brooks

Choice quote:

“I have no doubt there are as-yet undiscovered ways to raise funds via direct mail. But we’re more likely to find them by advancing beyond what we know…not by trashing our knowledge and making stuff up.”

Influencing philanthropic practice responsibly

Center for Effective Philanthropy blog

Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, says those generating knowledge about philanthropy have a responsibility to ensure that knowledge is grounded in research.

Choice quote:

“Many of the influential articles and reports about the practice of philanthropy — ones that assert that this approach or that approach is more effective than other approaches — are rooted in no actual research whatsoever.”

Emotions in legacies and bequests


The decision to donate part or all of one’s inheritance is very closely tied to emotions. Francesco Ambrogetti talks about research that demonstrates that telling the life stories of donors is a powerful mechanism to engage donors to consider leaving a legacy to a nonprofit organization.

Choice quote

“The main obstacle to leaving a legacy is our simple avoidance of talking about a legacy because it is a reminder of our own death. In fact, the first stage of defense to death reminders is avoidance.”

Has fundraising moved forwards, or backwards, in the last 50 years? And where next?


Harold Sumption was the “fundraisers’ fundraiser”. More than a hundred years since his birth, Giles Pegram reviews the great man’s ideas and asks if they’ve ever been bettered.

Choice quote:

“Harold was, without doubt, the biggest influence on a generation of British fundraisers, perhaps the first generation that was evolving into the new profession of modern fundraising.”

  • Giles Pegram has also written about Harold Sumption on UK Fundraising.
AM logos May 2016

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